Andrej, a 19 year old Lithuanian man, was a guest of Shelter from the Storm between May and November 2011 before he found his own place. Here’s his story.
I moved over from Lithuania in March 2010 when I was 18 years old. I started work as a dishwasher in a number of hotels. There was a guy in one of my jobs who was bullying me and one day, we got into a fight – we both lost our jobs. After a couple of weeks, without a job, I couldn’t pay my rent and became homeless. I would sleep in buses and on trains – I made a map of places where I could get into them where there were no barriers. For food, I’d collect the competition stamps from Macdonalds – the ones where if you had enough, you could get free food.
I was still looking for jobs and going for job interviews at the time but I couldn’t shower and I don’t think I gave the best impression.
I was then put in touch with Alone in London – they gave me some money for food and referred me to Shelter from the Storm. A few days later, I was living there. Shelter from the Storm helped me - the other guests and the volunteers are nice. I really enjoyed it there.
I was still looking for a job and Louie put in me touch with Pret*. I got a job there in July and they’ve really looked after me. I did a three-month paid apprenticeship and during that time, they gave me free travel allowance and vouchers for clothes. When I finished the apprenticeship, they helped me to buy a laptop.
At Pret, I’m a member of team and I do everything from organizing the float, to serving people, cooking hot food and even being a barista. It’s a good job – they’ve given me some great training. I’m now training to become a shift leader with lots of responsibility.
I still come back to Shelter from the Storm for dinner. Thanks to Louie and Sheila for taking me in and helping me get the job.
* Pret partners with Shelter from the Storm to help some of the young guests obtain training and work experience at their stores.